The Ministry of Health is scheduled to bring in amendments to the Food Act with regard to taxing sugar and sugar-based products, and to reduce the amount of sugar contained in consumer goods.

Director – Environmental, Occupational Health and Food Safety of the Food Control Administration Unit of the Ministry, Dr. T.B. Ananda Jayalal said that the process of reforming the law was currently ongoing.

Apart from seeking to tax sugary beverages, the changes to the law include reducing the limit of sugar contained in sugar-based products like beverages which currently contain a colour code (green colour – less than two milligrammes {mgs} of sugar per 100 millilitres {ml}, amber colour – between two to 11mgs per 100ml, and red colour – over 11mgs per 100 ml). Director of the Nutrition Coordination Division of the Ministry, Dr. Rasanjali Hettiarachchi further said that the Ministry intended to bring the limit to the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended standard of being less than six mgs per 100 ml.
The Nutrition Division of the Ministry pointed out that the WHO recommendation with regard to anyone consuming sugar was to consume less than six teaspoons of sugar per day. This includes sugar in drinks.

Elsewhere, Dr. Hettiarachchi highlighted that research had shown that sugar was more addictive than cocaine, adding that the brain tends to crave sugar more than it does cocaine, when one is using both.

Meanwhile, several researches based on different samples have revealed that approximately one fourths of the population in the country (25%) was diabetic. This however is not the national figure, Dr. Hettiarachchi added.

Sugar provides solely energy. Energy on the other hand can be obtained via the consumption of nutritious foods such carbohydrates like rice and potatoes. Excess sugar following increased intake of sugar gets converted into oil and gets deposited as fat, which in turn leads to becoming overweight and obese, which then leads to developing conditions like diabetes and/or heart disease and/or hypertension.

“Sugary sweets, biscuits and chocolates which young children tend to eat and drink are useless foods,” she explained.